Kamran Nayeri: First on Michael's statement: "Marx had some interesting and important insights, especially for his time, but it seems me to look to marxism today for any real help in solving the major problems of our own day is expecting too much of someone who’s been dead for a century and a half."
Marx is always worth reading, his insights and observations invaluable. But in the realm of basic theory, he offers no "help" but 'merely' a challenged.
His critique of political economy (not the same as a critical political economy) is the challenge: his analysis of the "ideal average of all capitalisms" (a remark in K3), expanded on by Luxemburg, Meiksins Wood, Moishe Postone, & others, presents us with a stark alternative: capitalism will destroy us all unless we destroy it first.
It's up to us to accomplish (we hope) that task; Marx, in Luxemburg's phrase, "socialism or barbarism" or in Meiksins Wood's title (Democracy Against Capitalism) merely tells us that we must.